Josh Hamilton

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 13, Cubs 2: It’s almost as if Josh Hamilton hadn’t totally forgotten how to play baseball or something. Go figure. Two homers and five RBI in this romp. One of his homers was back-to-back with a Pujols home run. First time that’s happened this year.

Nationals 5, Phillies 1: The Nats hit four homers off Cliff Lee: back-to-back in the fifth, back-to-back in the sixth. Otherwise Lee was fine and Mrs. Lincoln enjoyed the play.

Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 5: The sweep, as A.J. Ellis ties it up in the ninth and then homers in the fourteenth. The Dodgers were 12 games under .500 and nine and a half games out of first on June 22. Now they are back to .500 and one and a half back of the Diamondbacks after winning 15 of 18. I do a lot of radio spots around the country each week. A lot of the same stations over and over. It’s cute how the hosts and I talk about the surging Dodgers without acknowledging that we both talked about Don Mattingly’s imminent firing just a few weeks ago. We totally pretend we never said that stuff.

Blue Jays 5, Indians 4: They Jays rallied for three in the ninth and then held the Tribe’s own ninth inning rally to two runs. Terry Francona explains the ninth inning:

“Smitty had faced Arencibia four times and struck him out four times,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “That’s the matchup we wanted. With Kawasaki, he just left the ball over the plate and Bourny mishandled it for the unearned run.”

It takes a real pro to be obviously angry and disappointed but STILL use silly, childish nicknames for your players. That’s why Tito is Tito. Or maybe he should be Titoy or something.

Mets 7, Giants 2: Zack Wheeler was in the Giants organization once. They decided that a rental of Carlos Beltran was more valuable to them than keeping Wheeler. Probably not feeling that way this morning. Wheeler gave up one run in seven innings and had an RBI. Matt Cain lasted only two-thirds. The Mets sweep. The Giants are a disaster.

Marlins 6, Braves 2: A four-run first inning included a Giancarlo Stanton RBI double, which helped break his slump and the Marlins five-game losing streak.

Orioles 6, Rangers 1: Wei-Yin Chen finally returns from the DL and gives the O’s exactly what they needed: Seven innings, three hits and one run.

Reds 6, Brewers 2: Mike Leake helped stop the Reds bleeding — they’ve dropped five games behind the Cardinals — by pitching into the ninth inning, allowing only two runs.

Yankees 8, Royals 1: Ivan Nova allowed one run in eight innings while Robinson Cano and Lyle Overbay homered. Overbay’s was a slam. Both Brett Gardner and Travis Hafner left the game with contusions of one kind or another.

Pirates 5, Athletics 0: A’s beat writers were tweeting pics of ominous skies before this game started, remarking how strange it looked to them and how in California you simply don’t see that sort of thing. Maybe it threw the A’s off too. Maybe a three hour rain delay did. Either way, Francisco Liriano stymied Oakland batters.

Tigers 8, White Sox 5: Three hits a piece for Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, who added a home run. Joaquin Benoit walked two in the ninth but he did manage to convert his eighth save opportunity of the year so perhaps there is finally some stability at the end of the Tigers bullpen.

Rays 4, Twins 3: Thirteen innings played, 35 strikeouts between the teams. Bet this one was riveting to watch. Ben Zobrist with the game winning single. The Twins have dropped 10 of 11. The Rays are on fire.

Red Sox 11, Mariners 4: David Ortiz doubled, homered and drove in three. Felix Doubront allowed one run in seven. Ortiz’s double put him past Harold Baines for the most hits from a DH all-time.

Cardinals 5, Astros 4: Matt Carpenter hit a two-run homer in the seventh — off a lefty — to put the Cards past Houston. Take that, platoon splits.

Rockies 5, Padres 4: Jorge De La Rosa took a one-hit shutout into the sixth inning. It was his sixth straight win against the Padres.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.

Report: Juan Uribe is too expensive for the Giants

New York Mets' Juan Uribe follows the flight of his solo home run off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chris Rusin in the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that, while the Giants are interested in free agent Juan Uribe, the utilityman’s asking price is too high for the club. Despite having a capable starter at every position, the Giants are a bit thin on depth and Uribe would be a nice fit given his versatility.

Uribe, 36, spent last season with the Dodgers, Braves, and Mets. He hit a combined .253/.320/.417 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI over 397 plate appearances. In his only postseason plate appearance for the Mets, he hit an RBI single in Game 3 of the World Series against the Royals.

Uribe has mostly played third base in recent seasons, but also has plenty of experience at second base and shortstop.

A study showed “grit” isn’t always a great attribute

Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper slides into third with a three RBI triple during the third inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, April 25, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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This popped up in my Twitter feed and I felt it had some applicability to baseball. This past October, Olga Khazan of The Atlantic highlighted a study in which researchers from the University of Southern California and Northeastern University performed three separate but related experiments to determine how “gritty” their subjects were.

One experiment had them solve anagrams. The second, a computer game. Finally, the third test had them solve math problems. Those who were deemed “grittier” attempted to solve fewer anagrams, which means they were sticking too long with difficult words rather than skipping and moving onto easier ones. The “grittier” crowd worked harder when losing at the computer game, but worked only as hard as the less-gritty when winning. With the math problems, the subjects when stuck were given a choice to take $1 and quit or keep going for a potential reward of $2 but $0 if they failed. The study showed that the “grittier” people weren’t any more productive but were more willing to risk the $1 for the doubled prize.

“Grit” is also a common colloquialism in baseball circles, used to refer to players who always run out a routine ground ball or pop-up. Other common characteristics include a willingness to dive for fly balls, slide into players to break up double plays, and to stick up for their teammates when there’s a disagreement between members of two teams. Often, those deemed “gritty” are in many other ways subpar players, but their perceived “grit” gives them value.

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is a rare superstar player who has earned the “grit” descriptor. There are many examples showing why he has earned it, but the most famous incident occurred on May 13, 2013 at Dodger Stadium. Harper turned his back to the field to chase an A.J. Ellis fly ball but went face-first into the wall, suffering abrasions on his face and a jammed left shoulder. This was during a game the Nationals were comfortably winning 6-0 in the sixth inning. At the time, the Nationals were 95 percent favorites to win the game, according to FanGraphs. Is the risk of suffering an injury — which could keep Harper out only a game or two, or cause him to miss the rest of the season — worth potentially turning a double or triple into an out?

Famously, Philadelphia fans and talking heads got on outfielder Bobby Abreu’s case in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s because he appeared gun-shy when approaching the outfield fence on fly balls. He was under a lot of pressure to sacrifice his body for the supposed good of the team, and developed a reputation as “soft”. As a more recent example, former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins caught flack from fans when he didn’t run out a routine pop-up against the Mets on August 30, 2012. Then-manager Charlie Manuel benched the veteran. At the time, the Phillies were 62-69 and 17.5 games back of first place in the NL East and 8.5 games behind the second Wild Card. Freak injuries can happen, as Rollins’ teammate Ryan Howard showed when making the final out of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals. Is that non-zero injury risk worth the tiny chance that the infielder drops the pop-up and Rollins gets a single (or, in rarer cases, a double) in a game that is essentially meaningless?

The aforementioned study shows that maybe Abreu and Rollins had it right after all. Statistically, a freak injury that occurs on a “hustle” play is bound to happen. Maybe that’s what it will take to stop expecting athletes to put their bodies on the line for no realistic gain.

Zach Britton settles with the Orioles for $6.75 million

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Zach Britton delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Boston. The Orioles won 6-4. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
AP Photo/Steven Senne
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The Orioles and closer Zach Britton avoided an arbitration hearing, agreeing to a $6.75 million salary for the 2016 season, Jon Heyman reports. The club has now handled all of its remaining arbitration cases and won’t have to go to a hearing with any players.

Britton, in his second of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $7.9 million while the Orioles countered at $5.6 million. $6.75 million is exactly the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

The 28-year-old lefty saved 36 games in 40 chances last season for the O’s while putting up a 1.92 ERA with a 79/14 K/BB ratio over 65 2/3 innings.